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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

42: The Story of Jackie Robinson Integrating Major League Baseball [MOVIE REVIEW]

42 is the saga of Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier and becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball. Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson.

Veteran actor, Harrison Ford stars as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager who signed Robinson.

Nicole Beharie is featured as Robinson's biggest fan and wife, Rachel.

42 is a stimulating, historic, well-produced, and directed movie and it gets our highest rating: See It!.

While the cast is strong, Chadwick Boseman lacks the on-screen presence to succeed in the leading role. He's overshadowed by Harrison Ford in every scene they share. Boseman is even minimized by Nicole Beharie when they are on camera together. It's a combination of Boseman's weak persona and stellar performances of Ford and Beharie.

While much praise has been given to Branch Rickey for his courageous move in signing Robinson, 42 touches briefly on one of Rickey's primary motivations: economics. Urban areas where most major league teams played, had large black communities who stayed away from the segregated major leagues. Signing black players was one way to get those communities to come to games.

The movie focuses upon the racism faced by Robinson but also taught subtle lessons on bigotry. In one scene, a father and son sat excited in their anticipation of seeing the Dodgers play their home team. When Robison was introduced, the father along with other adults began calling the Dodger rookie the "N" word. The boy seemed a bit confused at first. But then soon joined in the slurring of Robinson. The kid had just learned to be a racist.

The film also references the fact that some players threatened to leave the league rather play with Robinson.

One final point, the baseball scenes are well staged, so sports fans won't be disappointed.

42 is rated PG-13 and is less than 2 hours. And again it's a See It.

Halloween. It’s been worth the wait. [MOVIE REVIEW]

It’s been 40 years since the Halloween film series first began. And it’s been nine years since the last iteration. In this version, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) continues his four-decade quest to kill his nemesis, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). But she’s ready for what she views as his inevitable return, living in a fortified cabin with an assortment of weapons at her disposal. One night when Michael’s transported from his asylum, he escapes. Of course, it also happens to be Halloween. He terrorizes the local town in search of his target, Laurie.

I have said many times before I am not a fan of the horror film genre. But I am not tricking you; Halloween is a treat!

The movie starts by laying the foundation for those who may not be familiar with Laurie’s and Michael’s history. That takes a while and you might find yourself thinking: Get on with the carnage! When it starts, Michael proves to be as bloody a murderer as you’ll see. The eerie Halloween theme music enhances those scenes.

Also, this story throws out the old rules as to who’s a victim and who is not. This is a well-written script and Jamie Lee Curtis is outstanding in the lead non-killer role. She has an intensity which adds credibility to this implausible movie type.

Halloween features the usual horror film unreasonable responses, rather than run, characters have to investigate. Then other times when they should investigate, like when a loved one is screaming, they stand looking puzzled.

Then there’s Michael Myers. Who is supposed to be a human being. After 40 years, Laurie is the grandmother of a teenage granddaughter. But all of those years’ incarcerated hasn’t aged him a bit. Also, in these films being crazy also makes villains stronger than other people. Michael must have been hitting the gym and lifting weights to maintain his strength because all these years later, he’s still able to overpower victims regardless of age or size.

Halloween gets a “B” for cast diversity. Small town America. There are African-Americans in supporting roles and in background scenes. But no other people of color.

Halloween is rated “R” for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity, and is 110 minutes in length. At a production cost of $10 million, which is a bargain for feature filmmaking, Halloween is bound to be a box office success. It’s a See It!

The First Man, It Doesn’t Really Take Off. [MOVIE REVIEW]

Based on the bestselling account of Neil Armstrong’s journey to becoming the first person on the moon,First Man stars Ryan Gosling as the first man on the moon. The film focuses upon the 1961 – 1969 time period when Armstrong goes from a decorated but unknown pilot to one of the most famous men in the world. The story doesn’t just focus on the NASA side of his life but also upon his painful recovery from a loss of close loved one.

First Man is an often dry, necessarily predictable but informationally important film. The problem with movies based upon well-known historical events is that the outcomes are by in large already known. When senior government officials discussed whether the U.S. would move forward with plans to land a man on the moon, viewers knew that answer was yes. When Armstrong applied for the astronaut’s program we all knew he’d be selected.

The movie also tells the story of Armstrong’s home and family life – which is actually pretty boring. Younger viewers expecting to see Star Wars type of adventures will be disappointed.

But the film's value is its references to historical issues. Like how the U.S. space exploration was driven by competition with the Russians and that eight men died in NASA related accidents during the 1960s.

Ryan Gosling is bland in First Man’s leading role. I am not sure if that was his acting or a reflection of Armstrong’s true personality. On the other hand, Claire Foy was outstanding as Armstrong’s wife Janet. She dominated every scene she was in.

As to cast diversity, First Man gets a “C”. To many in this country, this time period from 1961-1969 represents the “good ole days” when women and people of color held few positions of power or authority. However, black men are shown at the launch site and in the command center scenes. And there were no references to the black women featured in Hidden Figures, who played essential roles the space program during that very same time period.

The verdict on the First Man is to wait and Rent It. It’s an interesting film but not compelling enough to rush out and see it now.

It’s Rated PG-13 (for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language). And it is an extremely long 138 minutes.

The Oath is pretty good; I promise [MOVIE REVIEW]

In The Oath, the White House announces it is requesting that all Americans take an “optional” loyalty pledge to the president. This request outrages Chris (Ike Barinholtz), a diehard liberal and only fuels his existing anger over the direction the country is heading. He shares his disgust with his wife, Kai (Tiffany Haddish) who appears to be just as offended. As they prepare to host his family for Thanksgiving, he hears stories of people who vocally oppose the pledge being taken from their homes by federal agents. Chris’ family comprised of his parents, sister and her husband, and brother and his girlfriend arrive and as Chris expects, there are contentious exchanges among them about the pledge and politics in general. Kai does her best to keep the peace but things only get worse when some unexpected guests arrive.

Writer, director, and star Ike Barinholtz makes a strong statement about America’s current political climate in this provocative production. He hits both the government and those who remain quiet and are even supportive of the erosion of U.S. constitutional principles. The characters are authentic and credible, except for the fact that they ALL curse like the proverbial sailor which makes all of their dialogue sound very similar.

Chris’ interracial marriage fits his persona perfectly but is not really a major issue in the storyline. Tiffany Haddish continues her tendency, we first saw in Girls Trip, to play the stereotypical, horny black woman. When Chris first hears of the pledge and goes on a rant, her focus quickly becomes getting his pants off.
While the performances are stellar across the board, Ike Barinholtz is exceptional; just as you might expect of someone who writes, directs, and stars in a film.

As to our cast diversity rating, The Oath gets an A-. The cast is relatively small and Haddish, an African American woman and Asian American John Cho have major roles.

Ultimately, The Oath works because it’s thought-provoking and takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster. It gets our highest rating, See It!

It’s rated R (for language throughout, violence and some drug use) and is a fast-paced, 93 minutes in length.

 

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